So here I am, back at the house, with a very large glass of Bill Samuels' finest over lots of ice. In probably 1 to 2 hours, I'll have a temporary cure for my Robert Vaden hangover. Did I mention in my adversary analysis that we had to guard Vaden? I'm sure I did.
It's never fun to attend a game in person that your team loses, especially when it is the first one in a while. I usually manage to make one or two live UK games every year, and it sure is unpleasant to walk out a loser.
Here are my first-blush impressions of this game.
- For 30 minutes, we looked very good on both sides of the floor. For the last 10, we looked like a different team.
- Mike Davis completely outcoached Gillispie in this game. He had the officials calling it his way, and the crowd was outraged many times that Davis didn't get a tech. Give him credit -- he worked the refs, and mostly got his way with them.
- Gillispie tried two people on Vaden -- Crawford and Porter. Porter will have more bruises than an MMA fighter tomorrow, as he got hit hard by every player on UAB's team. In this game, a moving pick would have required a closed fist, an elbow, or a running start.
- Crawford could not guard Vaden, and would have fouled out of the game. Porter could not guard Vaden, as he was 3 inches too short, a step too slow, and couldn't jump high enough to get a hand in his face when he wasn't looking like a pinball.
- We don't know if anyone else could have guarded Vaden, because Gillispie didn't see fit to try anyone else.
- Patrick Patterson struggled mightily in the second half, and the UAB's defense was much more aggressive.
- 18 turnovers to 9. All you need to know.
- The Cats didn't shoot bad. They just didn't shoot enough.
- Vaden was supernatural -- 10-18 from the field and 7-11 from 3. I have seen hot players before, but he was impossible to guard. He would have lit up Rajon Rondo just as much, because you can't guard a player run off that many staggered screens no matter who you are.
- How do you shoot 57% and lose? For that matter, how do you shoot 57%, outrebound the opponent 22-15 on the offensive glass, and lose?
I am very disappointed in Gillispie's coaching at this particular moment. This loss is on him just as much as it is on our turnover-prone team. He didn't adjust to Davis' adjustments at all. By the last 10 minutes of the game, Kentucky's tongues were hanging down to their knees. UAB absolutely dominated the last 12 minutes, and they did so by taking the ball away from Kentucky and making shots -- easy shots, tough shots, long ones short ones ... It was not what I hoped for.
No matter what you think of our talent, we surely have enough to compete with UAB. How did we lose? It's a mystery. We could have double teamed Vaden every time he touched it and likely would have won the game. We held the guy to 5 points in the first half, and the second half, he lights us up for 28 points. Hello, coach -- guys having crazy good games demand adjustments, and changing the man guarding him one time doesn't qualify.
Congrats to UAB for a gutty, come from behind victory, and Robert Vaden in particular for reminding all of us why he was so highly thought of out of high school. Mike Davis has now tied the number of wins he had at IU against us at a much less storied school.